Over 1100 people have died after the Bangladesh garment factory collapsed and we all feel horrible about it, but do we feel bad enough to stop supporting the garment lines that continue to make their clothing this way? Are we willing to stop buying those $5 tank tops in Walmart, those $10 t-shirts at Target and all those insanely low priced fashions in Forever 21? What about the high end designers sewing their lines in these shops like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Benetton?
See, I own a garment line that produces ethically in the United States. We buy our fabric from the few mills left in the US and all our trims, elastics and buttons from US companies as well. Each time I come across a cheap garment hanging in any store, I immediately look at where it was made and do the math in my head. So, let me break this down for you.
If you see a garment retailing for $5.00 in a store, the retailer probably paid $2.00 for it. That means that the fabric used to make the garment, any elastic or trims, shipping the garments, and the sewing of the actual garment must be covered in that $2.00 cost. For some perspective, it is close to impossible to purchase any fabric made in the US for less than $4.00 a yard. So tell me, if a wholesaler is receiving $2.00 per garment, what is that wholesaler paying their people who sew it in China, Bangladesh and other countries after they pay for all the other expenses that go into making that one garment? Most importantly, where does the wholesaler cut his expenses so he can make his profit?
We all must consciously consider these things every time we shop and think about Who Made My Clothes? Anytime we see that $5.00 tank top or even a $30 dress, we have to do the math in our heads. We must consider the true cost of labor for each and every “cheap” garment and consider how that wholesaler who sells these to Target, Walmart and large designers makes his money. The truth is, these wholesalers barely pay their sewing operators and they don’t even give them safe working conditions. They have literally sacrificed their workers’ safety for fashion!
Now doesn’t that make that $5.00 tank top feel a lot more expensive?
-Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer
Previously Posted on May 7, 2013